Monday, August 6, 2007

Captain John Files Tom

There were many brave people who helped make Atascosa County what it is today, none more so than Captain John Files Tom. He came from a long line of heroes. His great grandfather was killed by Tories in South Carolina during the revolutionary war. His uncle, John Files on his mother's side, was a soldier under Andrew Jackson in the British war of 1812, and was killed in the battle of New Orleans on the 8th of January, 1815. His father, William Tom, was a soldier under General Jackson in the war with the Indians, and was present at the famous battle of Horseshoe Bend. It only seems logical that William, a widower, would bring his young son to Texas in 1835. They came with recommendations of good character and citizenship from Maury County, Tennessee.

In the summer of 1835 the Tom family was living in Washington County. William Tom and his son John joined Austin's army, participating in the battles of Mission Concepcion and the "Grass fight", and then father and son joined the artillery under Colonel Neill to help Ben Milam in San Antonio. In 1836 they joined the army of General Sam Houston to defend Texas against Santa Anna at San Jacinto, John Tom was only 17 at the time and wore a pair of woolen stockings, donated by a young neighbor girl. When the battle was over John Tom was found, his leg shattered by a musket ball. The wound took months to heal and left him with an uneven gait that stayed with him for life.

He married Mary Ann Moffitt in 1840 and the couple had four daughters. In 1846 they moved to Guadalupe County, before it was organized and in 1856 John Files Tom was elected sheriff. He and Mary Ann took on the task of raising the son of a friend who had joined the confederacy. That boy was Edward Morris.

In 1862 they moved to Atascosa County, and in 1863 John received a commission to raise a company of rangers for frontier protection. He fought the Comanche at the head of San Miguel Creek with Calvin Turner, Lott Miller and others. He was made a Mason in 1867 in Pleasanton. In 1873 Captain Tom was elected to the Texas Legislature to represent the people of Atascosa County. Also in 1873, Mary Ann died and was buried in the Old Rock Cemetery in Somerset. In 1875, Capt. Tom married Nancy Henderson. Seven children were born from this union.

Captain John Files Tom later moved to Edwards County where he lived until his death in 1906. He is buried in Leakey, his grave modestly decorated for his service to Texas.

Bibliography: A.J. Sowell, Texas Indian Fighters (1900), The Handbook of Texas Online, Tom, John Files.

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